When the curtain goes up on Newsies at Arena Stage this holiday season, look for Les. The little-brother character is played by two kids from NoVA.
For most kids with dreams of performing on the Great White Way, being in New York City is necessary. But, it turns out, there’s a dance studio in Ashburn that’s training the next generation of successful Broadway stars. Studio Bleu is home to a number of professional, young actors, including Josiah Smothers, 10, and Hazel Hay, 9. The kids, in fifth and fourth grade respectively, are making their Arena Stage debut this holiday season in the DC theater’s production of Newsies, a Disney-movie-turned-Tony-Award-winning Broadway-play. The pair will split the role of Les, the younger brother of David “Davey” Jacobs, a “newsie” who takes on Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in the play, which is inspired by the NYC Newsboys Strike of 1899. But this isn’t the first time on stage for Smothers or Hay. Smothers made his national tour debut last year as Michael and Jack in the musical Finding Neverland, while Hay performed last year in Ford’s Theatre’s A Christmas Carol—and already has a number of film and television credits to her name.
But, despite their early successes, they’re still kids just having fun. “We became best friends when we met,” says Smothers of rehearsals with Hay. “It’s really fun. There are other teenagers [in the cast], but we’re the only kids under 12.”
Echoes Hay, “It’s super great, I love getting to hang out with Jojo [Smothers] and learning so many new things.”
And, as the youngest kids in the cast, what’s it like being on stage? “You get to spend so many great hours making new friends and rehearsing,” says Hay. “When you finally hit the stage in your costume it’s just like, ‘Oh my word, this is actually happening.’” // through Dec. 22; Arena Stage: 1101 Sixth St. SW, Washington, DC; $51-$105
Cher: Here We Go Again Tour
After over five years without a U.S. tour, the iconic Cher is back again to play her biggest hits, plus songs from her most recent album, Dancing Queen, a tribute to ABBA music. Nile Rodgers and CHIC special guest. // Dec. 10; 7:30 p.m.; Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, Washington DC; $47.95- $1,700
DC Downtown Holiday Market
Travel to the heart of DC for this bountiful holiday market’s 15th anniversary. With a diverse array of goods, including jewelry, paintings, pottery, textiles, artisan foods and more, you’ll find something for everyone on your holiday list. // through Dec. 23; noon-8 p.m.; Downtown DC: Eighth and F Streets NW, Washington DC; free
Step Afrika Holiday Show
Clap and stomp along as Step Afrika! blends contemporary dance styles of historically African-American fraternities and sororities with traditional African dance, all while intertwining stories, songs and the audience’s participation throughout the show. If you’re bringing kids, come early—Step Afrika! performers invite children to join them in crafting special holiday drums and shakers 45 minutes before each performance. // Dec. 12-22; times vary; The Atlas Performing Arts Center: 1333 H St. NE, Washington DC; $25-$45
Recent Acquisitions at National Portrait Gallery
This annual exhibition shows 25 of the newest additions to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Portraits of Frances Arnold, Jeff Bezos, Earth, Wind & Fire, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Indra Nooyi and Anna Wintour will join other United States history-shapers and culture-makers at the gallery. // through August 2020; National Portrait Gallery: Eighth and F Streets NW, Washington DC; free
This post originally appeared in our December 2019 issue. For more things to do in DC and NoVA, subscribe to our newsletters.